LINVILLE, N.C. – A cold snap during Winter Storm Elliott that brought strong winds and subzero temperatures also saw the third-lowest temperature ever recorded on Grandfather Mountain for the month of December, according to data recorded at the park’s official weather reporting stations.
The average high temperature for December 2022 was 38.7 degrees Fahrenheit, with an average low of 24.9 degrees and a mean of 31.6 degrees.
The warmest temperature recorded last month was 53.4 degrees on Dec. 6, just under 10 degrees shy of the mountain’s record December high of 63 degrees, observed on Dec. 7, 1956.
Dec. 24 saw the coldest temperature recorded last month with minus 18.2 degrees, making it the third-lowest temperature ever recorded on Grandfather Mountain in the month of December. A wind chill of minus 56.8 was noted that same day. The lowest temperature observed for this month (not counting wind chill) was minus 21 degrees on Dec. 25, 1983.
The weather station on the Mile High Swinging Bridge noted eight days in December with a wind gust higher than 60 mph. On Dec. 24, the weather station at the top recorded a wind gust of 84.2 mph, while the month’s highest recorded sustained wind speed clocked in at 65.2 mph on Dec. 1. The highest gust ever recorded on Grandfather Mountain was 124 mph, observed Feb. 25, 2019.
The weather station near the Swinging Bridge reported 2.62 inches of precipitation in December 2022. This does not include two days of missing data, due to inaccessibility from inclement weather. Observations recorded near the park’s Wilson Center for Nature Discovery saw 2.66 inches of precipitation and also noted 0.5 inches of snow on Dec. 25 and trace amounts of snow on Dec. 27, not including two days of missing data, due also to inaccessibility from inclement weather. Precipitation is also measured at the latter location, as high winds can make it difficult to record accurate observations at the top.
The mountain’s rainiest December was recorded in 2018, when 10.70 inches were observed near the bridge. The driest December on record was observed in 1965, when 0.55 inches were measured at the top.
Not including the missing data, the park counted 20 total days of precipitation for December 2022, two days shy of the record high of 22 days seeing at least trace amounts of rainfall for this month on record, in 1972 and 1981. The rainiest day last month was Dec. 15, when 0.60 inches were recorded at the top. The rainiest day on record for December was Dec. 28, 1958, when the weather station observed 3.46 inches.
The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation records and reports data in two different ways:
- The park maintains an automated weather station at the top of the Mile High Swinging Bridge. The N.C. State Climate Office assists the foundation in calibrating the machines and ensuring overall accuracy of data.
- Grandfather Mountain has been an active member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Cooperative Observer Program since 1955 by reporting weather data from locations near the Mile High Swinging Bridge and the Nature Museum (now the Wilson Center for Nature Discovery).